SpaceX’s Starship rocket will deliver the largest lunar rover to the Moon in 2026
Despite the fact that SpaceX’s next-generation rocket has yet to make a single flight, the company has already started booking Starship flights. Astrolab, a startup that hopes to transport equipment, materials and people around the surface of the Moon, has announced that it has signed a deal with Elon Musk’s space company to reserve space on the uncrewed Starship cargo mission. The launch is expected to take place in mid-2026, and Astrolab says it is one of several customers participating in the flight.
Jaret Matthews, CEO of Astrolab, told The New York Times, that this will be SpaceX’s first commercial contract to deliver cargo to the surface of the Moon. The startup is currently developing a vehicle called Flexible Logistics and Exploration (FLEX), which is roughly the same size as a Jeep Wrangler. FLEX is equipped with a robotic arm that can assist with cargo, can travel at speeds of up to 24 kilometers per hour, and can carry up to two astronauts.
Astrolab says FLEX will be the largest lunar rover to travel on the lunar surface after it lands on Earth’s satellite. Matthews said the startup already has customers waiting to use the rover to transport cargo during the 2026 Starship mission. In addition, Matthews believes that FLEX could help establish a permanent human presence on the moon and beyond. “Ultimately our goal is to have a fleet of rovers both on the Moon and Mars,” he said. “And I really think I see these vehicles as the catalysts ultimately for the off-Earth economy.”